“It’s still early”
“The guys need time to gel”
“Give them some time, they’ll figure it out”
“Spending money on relief pitchers is stupid”
“The Dodgers have to cut payroll”
“It’s Rick Honeycutt’s fault”
“It’s Dave Robert’s fault”
“These guys have loads of potential”
“They’re good pitchers, they’re just struggling right now”
“Games in April aren’t as important as games in September”
“It’s Andrew Friedman’s fault”
Ok maybe the last excuse probably has the most truth to it. These are the excuses you are likely to constantly hear uttered as the Dodgers continue to lose baseball games. You will probably hear all of those excuses at least once this season. The apologists love the mentioned excuses above.
The Dodgers returned home to kick off their 2016 home schedule on Tuesday afternoon. They opened a three game series against the Dbacks with yet another blown lead in the late innings. Once again the Dodger bullpen could not hold a lead, and Paul Goldschmidt continued to torture them. The Dodger killer hit his 22nd home run against the boys in blue and drove in two. The Dbacks got another home run from light hitting Nick Ahmed, and an RBI triple from youngster Socrates Brito. The Dodger bullpen gave up all four runs off four hits and only struck out two batters in a 4-2 opening day loss to the Snakes.
Dbacks 4 9 0
Dodgers 2 9 0
There was little chance that the bullpen was going to hold a measly one-run lead. That was instantly blown within minutes. What a terrible way to end Vin Scully’s last opening day, with a pathetic loss. Before the game the Dodgers honored Vin Scully by having a bunch of the all-time Dodger greats autograph a baseball and hand it to him at home plate. It was a touching moment. Then we listened as Vin Scully called his final opening day game at Dodger Stadium. What a shame.
The Dodgers normally play very well on opening day. Before this afternoon they had only lost once on opening day since 2008. The Dodgers activated Howie Kendrick and Yasmani Grandal before the game. Grandal did not play, but Kendrick started at second base and batted fifth. Eventually he was moved into left field during the later innings. Why the Dodgers want to play him there when he’s had a history of hamstring injuries is beyond me. It seems like a bad idea.
Anyways, the Dodgers gave the ball to Japanese import Kenta Maeda. He countered Arizona left hander Patrick Corbin. Both hurlers pitched well, and for the first six innings the game was a tight low scoring pitcher’s duel. The Dodgers had the edge 1-0.
You can’t blame the loss on Maeda, who pitched very well. Maeda threw six shutout innings, allowing just five hits and one walk. He struck out 4, and made 95 pitches. Corbin pitched just as well as Maeda. The left hander tossed six innings of one-run ball allowing six hits and striking out one. Neither hurler was involved in the decision.
Once again it was Paul Goldschmidt and the Dodger bullpen that became their undoing. Pedro Baez, Chris Hatcher, and Louis Coleman all allowed runs. Hatcher was charged with the loss and Baez a blown save. The offense didn’t do the club any favors either. The Dodgers were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Maeda was a big positive in the game for the Dodgers. He pitched very well again. The Japanese import had to work out of a second and third jam in the second inning, which he did without issue. In that frame Wellington Castillo singled, and Jake Lamb doubled him to third. Then Maeda whiffed Yasmany Tomas for the first out. Corbin and Nick Ahmed both followed with ground outs to end the inning and keep Arizona off the board.
The Dodgers scored first in the top of the second inning. Kendrick singled to right, and Trayce Thompson’s infield single sent Kendrick to second. After Corey Seager lined out, A.J. Ellis laid down a perfect squeeze bunt (scoring Kendrick) to score the first run for the Dodgers. We saw him do this during spring training. It’s obviously something A.J. worked on a lot.
With the Dodgers leading 1-0, Arizona threatened to score in the top of the sixth. However the Dodger’s made a great defensive play to throw out Castillo at the plate. Castillo had singled and was trying to score on a Jake Lamb double to right field. Yasiel Puig’s relay throw to Justin Turner was perfect. Turner threw to A.J. and the Dodgers had Castillo nailed at the plate.
Then the Dodger bullpen ruined everything as usual. Baez was called in to relieve Maeda in the top of the seventh with the Dodgers still up 1-0. He got Tomas to pop out for the first out. He struck out pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin for the second out. It looked like everything was going to be ok. Not with the Dodger bullpen it won’t. Nick Ahmed then slugged a home run just over the low left field wall to tie the game. Ahmed had hit just ten career MLB home runs and has a .225 batting average. It’s unbelievably pathetic.
Move to the top of the eighth. With the game tied at 1-1, the Dodgers brought in Chris Hatcher. Just like Baez he starts off the inning well by inducing Socrates Brito to ground out. Then Paul Goldschmidt crushes a home run into the pavilions to give the Snakes a 2-1 lead. After a David Peralta line out, Castillo doubles to left. Lamb is intentionally walked, and then Hatcher walks Tomas to load the bases.
In similar fashion to Don Mattingly, Dave Roberts makes a bases loaded pitching change. In comes Louis Coleman to retire Rickie Weeks for the final out of the inning. Coleman would remain in the game to give up more runs. Ahmed is hit by a pitch in the top of the ninth. Brito triples him in to give the Dbacks a 3-1 lead. Goldschmidt’s ground out scores Brito for the fourth run of the game for Arizona.
The Dodgers mounted a short rally off of Brad Ziegler in the bottom of the ninth. Of course it was too little too late. Sound familiar? Seager doubled and moved to third on a Joc Pederson ground out. Yasmani Grandal’s first plate appearance was as a pinch-hitter. He grounded out which scored Seager to cut the lead to 4-2. That was it. Kike whiffs for the final out, and the Dodgers lose again.
The bullpen is seriously killing the team. There is no way to sugarcoat this. You guys know I don’t mince words over here. The bullpen is awful. There is not a chance that these guys are just going to magically find themselves. The Dodgers are going to have to make some moves. You can’t win without a bullpen
The series continues with game 2 on Wednesday evening. Former Dodger farmhand Rubby De La Rosa will take on Alex Wood at 7:10 PM. Beating up on De La Rosa is always fun. That’s just what the Dodgers need to pick their spirits up.